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Free At Noon Flashback: Jens Lekman delivers charm to spare with breezy, danceable set

Jens Lekman | photo by Tiana Timmerberg for WXPN

If I learned one thing at this week’s Free At Noon, it’s that Jens Lekman has charm to spare. There’s a disarming ease to the way he talks and performs that you don’t see very often. Maybe it’s the way he bows after every song, or the way he quietly smiles to himself while he plays. Maybe it’s the way he thanked a baby for taking a nap in front of him mid-set, maybe it’s the way he held the hand of a fan during a tender lyric, or maybe it’s Maybelline. Whatever it is, it’s totally his own, and over the course of a breezy afternoon set, he put it to very good use. It certainly helped that most of the set came from his very fun, very danceable new album Life Will See You Now, but in all honesty, the guy could have kept my attention with a recorder and a tambourine. Continue reading →

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Free at Noon Flashback: Grandaddy celebrates release of new album, Last Place

Grandaddy | photo by Tiana Timmerberg for WXPN | spotlightviews.com
Grandaddy | photo by Tiana Timmerberg for WXPN | spotlightviews.com

If you were to take a quick gander across the crowd at today’s Free At Noon, you might be confused as to what artist could possibly appeal to such a wide array of folks. That artist is 90’s indie outfit,  Grandaddy.

Completely packed in the World Cafe Live upstairs stage, fans young and old and in-between jammed along to Grandaddy’s afternoon set, which included a mix of past favorites and new tracks off their album released today, Last Place.

Wearing a neon orange flat rim hat and plaid shirt, frontman, Jason Lytle looked just as much as the prolific skater as he did twenty years ago. Opening song “Hewlett’s Daughter” immediately drew excitement and yelps from the crowd–at once commencing a sea of head nodding. This sea later grew into full out head-bang fest the moment “A.M. 180’s” familiar techno beats began. Continue reading →

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Free At Noon Flashback: Dave Hause makes the rock show a family affair

Dave Hause | photo by Tiana Timmerberg | <a href="http://spotlightviews.com" target="_blank">spotlightviews.com</a>
Dave Hause | photo by Tiana Timmerberg | spotlightviews.com

Philadelphia singer/songwriter Dave Hause is devoted to his city. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see that, but if somehow you need more proof, his new record is called Bury Me In Philly. From the start of his set this afternoon, it was clear this was going to be a family affair. His brother was to his right playing guitar. His dad was in the audience, and at the end of the performance, Hause let his niece and nephew do their first stage dive. It’s just the kind of feel-good atmosphere you want after a long work week.

There’s a humility to this guy that permeates every aspect of his music. The arrangements, lyrics, even the way he and his band The Mermaid move around onstage feels deeply rooted in classic rock. Most of the songs came off the new record, from was the countrified “Divine Lorraine” to the alt-rock leaning “With You.” These variations kept the songs from blending together too much, but it always came back to the Springsteen-esque chug that got Hause where he is today. Continue reading →

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Free at Noon Flashback: Flo Morrissey and Matthew E. White put a psychedelic twist on hits old and new

Flo Morrissey and Matthew E. White | photo by Tiana Timmerberg for WXPN
Flo Morrissey and Matthew E. White | photo by Tiana Timmerberg for WXPN

What do Nico, Frankie Valli, and Frank Ocean all have in common? Their wonderful tunes take a different shape on Gentlewoman, Ruby Man, the wonderful new album from the pond-crossing pair Flo Morrissey and Matthew E. White. Lucky for us in the Free at Noon crowd, we got to experience the duo put their psychedelic twist on some classic tunes from the aforementioned trio and beyond.

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Free at Noon Flashback: Ron Gallo brings his raw power and character to the World Cafe Live stage

Ron Gallo | photo by Tiana Timmerberg for WXPN
Ron Gallo | photo by Tiana Timmerberg for WXPN

Man, this Ron Gallo guy, he’s something special. His eloquent lyricism, blues-like guitar riffs, and overall raw attitude defines him as his own, and it all came into full effect as he took the World Cafe Live stage for a round of pure rock and roll.

Gallo’s return trip to XPN found him performing material from his soon-to-be-released record Heavy Meta, along with some of his past discography. Matching the manic nature of all those damn stage lights, Gallo and friends flowed through fifty minutes of some fantastic garage rock, as songs like “Young Lady, You’re Scaring Me” and “Kill the Medicine Man” felt like a White Stripes and Costello Music baby. Continue reading →

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Free At Noon Flashback: Leif Vollebekk leaves it all onstage with intimate solo set

Leif Vollebekk | photo by Cameron Pollack for WXPN
Leif Vollebekk | photo by Cameron Pollack for WXPN

When we talk about singer/songwriter music, the word “intimate” pops up frequently. It makes sense, of course, since they tend to talk about things that are private or closely personal, but after a while, the word starts to feel redundant. With that being said, though, I can’t think of any other way to describe Leif Vollebekk’s set this afternoon. He’s using the same ingredients as many of his peers, but it still comes out feeling fresh, genuine, and yes, very intimate. Continue reading →

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Free At Noon Flashback: Chuck Prophet keeps the rock & roll tradition alive with crowd-pleasing acoustic set

Chuck Prophet | photo by Cameron Pollack for WXPN | <A href=http://cameronpollackphotography.com target="_blank">cameronpollackphotography.com</a>
Chuck Prophet | photo by Cameron Pollack for WXPN | cameronpollackphotography.com

Singer/songwriter Chuck Prophet’s music is steeped in history. Whether it be the San Francisco-centric Temple Beautiful or the personal tales on 2014’s Night Surfer, there’s a palpable reverence for the past that can’t be ignored. The rock & roll tradition is constantly being reimagined and reinterpreted, and Chuck is just one of many reshaping it in his image. His latest, Bobby Fuller Died For Your Sins, is sure to continue on that trajectory. On record, he’s usually joined by a full band, but one man and his guitar were more than enough to satisfy the Free At Noon audience this Friday afternoon. Continue reading →